Careful what you sign

My last column explored some of the concerns that were expressed to me about the Capital Power Phase 2 wind farm being developed north of Halkirk.
I want to explore some of the issues that landowners need to be aware of before they sign a contract with the developer of a wind farm.
Having a wind generator installed on your farm is far more intrusive than a gas or oil well in my opinion.
These days renewable energy seems to be a fad. The environmental movement would have you think that by signing a contract with a wind farm or a solar developer you will be saving the world.
From the research that I have done I would say that you could be exchanging one problem for another.
I was given access to an engineering study that was done in Ontario to determine if the net result of a wind generator was a decrease of C02 emissions emitted into the atmosphere.
They determined the energy that was required to mine, produce the steel for a generator, the manufacture of the components, construction to install the generator, etc. with all considered, there was more C02 emitted than the generator would displace from other forms of generation, so it was a net loss.
Most of us are familiar with the Surface Rights Act. This act does not apply when negotiating a contract for wind or solar generation.
You are on your own.
An oil company can only put an easement on the parcel of land that has the well and access road. The wind developer can put a much more extensive easement on your property.
I read one document written by a lawyer that wind companies have put easements on an entire quarter sections where the generator was to be installed and used the property as collateral to finance the project.
If that happened you could not then use that same property as collateral for your purposes.
You need to know what restrictions the wind developer will be putting on your property if you agree to the installation of a wind generator.
As yet there have been no regulations developed for the decommissioning and reclamation of the wind towers.
You need to know what happens if the developer becomes insolvent. You also need to know if you will still be paid your rental if it has been decommissioned but not yet reclaimed.
Believe me, an abandoned wind tower is a far greater liability and intrusion than an abandoned oil or gas well. I think an abandoned wind tower would significantly decrease the value of your property.
What happens to the infrastructure if the developer becomes insolvent? You may be stuck with that tower as has happened with some orphan oil and gas wells.
Be aware that their land men are not interested in you, just access to your land. They are working in the interests of the developer. They are professional salesmen and will likely tell you what they want you to hear.
They are not above using some intimidation to get you to sign that contract and once you have signed it they will not renegotiate or cancel the contract.
I heard of one situation where a spouse signed a contract without the knowledge of the other spouse. The contract was final without respecting the Dower Act.
If a developer is planning a project in an area they must be up front and make everyone aware of their plans but we know that they don’t always do that. Especially if they are expecting community resistance to the project.
I would caution everyone to be careful with these people. The Farmer Advocate office has a publication available “Negotiating Renewable Energy Leases”.
Obtain one by phone at 310-3276. DO NOT sign or negotiate a contract without legal advice.

A petition regarding the wind farms is available to sign at 4921 Victoria Avenue in Coronation, Ab.

by Herman Schwenk

 

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